How Money Issues Destroy Relationships


The Forum for Family and Consumer Issues, reported that 30% of couples who disagree about how to handle their finances on a weekly basis are more likely to get divorced as opposed to those who argue about it once a month. 39% of respondents listed it as their primary issue and 54% as their secondary.

As a relationship therapist, I see the larger percent of clients come in for help with infidelity – their partners or their own. Money comes into play with that issue- the spending of family money. The handling of finances can also create an imbalance in power and that weighs heavy on the quality of relationships.

The resolution of both these issues is the ability to communicate well and honestly, for the benefit of the partnership. Help each other understand the way money was handled in their families. We give meaning to everything. So find out how this reflects your partner’s financial style. Then negotiate a resolution that would work for each of you. Transparency is so important for fostering trust in relationships.

Then negotiate solutions and find the ones that will satisfy each partner. It should be a win/win.

The person most qualified to handle the family finances should be the one to which this responsibility is given. However, it is important that the couple come together monthly, so that both are aware of their expenditures and their savings. This promotes realistic spending and saving. It supports their feeling of being a team. And, it offers a sense of security.

Power struggles around money can be demoralizing. It will be a destructive force against maintaining that loving bond you once had.

One interesting and sensible way of spending is rather than the materialist gathering of things, plan vacations, enjoy activities together, and create wonderful memories that will live on in each of you. Of course, the planning should take into account what will make a mutually satisfying venture.

Each person should be allocated a certain amount of money (agreed to by both,) to use at their own discretion. This allows for some autonomy and freedom.

Agree to consult each other regarding large expenses before making the purchase.

When family gets involved, again there needs to be open discussion and a joint resolution.

Some couples choose different ways of handling how the money is allocated. Some prefer a joint account from which living expense are taken. Some prefer to divide expenses and each maintain their own money. When there is an imbalance in their ability to earn money, they need to agree to something that feels fair.

Bottom line, when it comes to painful affairs, or big differences in their approach to the financial situation, authentic, compassionate communication is a good predictor of maintaining a loving relationship.

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About Paula Susan

Paula Susan, MSW, LCSW, Masters in Clinical Social Work & Psychology; specialist in Trauma and Relationships since 1982. In 1991, I integrated the powerfully transformative process of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). Research demonstrates that it facilitates life-altering changes more efficiently and effectively than talk therapy alone. I teach skills such as communication and anxiety relief to improve connection with others. Over the decades, I’ve come to respect how much damage even small traumatic experiences inflict on our core beliefs about ourselves and the world around us. I consider it a privilege to help my clients understand and change what has undermined their happiness and their relationships. I do it with warmth, integrity, humor, and profound respect for those who care about the quality of this small piece of time we have on

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